With his family at his side, John G. Cobb passed on Wednesday, December 16, 2020, at the age of 86. John was born to Trueman C. Cobb and Ida Mae “Dinah” Pratt Cobb on January 20, 1934, on his family’s farm in Lebanon, Okla. A proud citizen of Oklahoma and the Chickasaw Nation, John grew up with his extended family working farm and ranch lands they had shared for generations and among a close and loving community of kin and friends. First in his family to attend college,
First in his family to attend college, John earned his bachelor’s degree in 1954 and master’s degree in 1956 from Southeastern State College. He then earned his Administrative Certificate from the University of Oklahoma in 1956 and went on to a career in public school education and administration. After his first job as teacher in Maysville, Okla, and with his father’s blessing and statement that he “always knew [he] was a city boy,” John moved to Ardmore to teach at Charles Evans Elementary, later teaching at Ardmore Junior High and going on to serve as Principal at Jefferson Elementary School and then Charles Evans Elementary, holding the latter position upon his retirement. John was known to thousands of former students as “Mr. Cobb,” and it was common for him to be able to call each of them—no matter how many years had passed—by their name. He was the consummate educator who was proud of his lifelong service to Ardmore City Schools. Following retirement, he continued his service to public education, working at the Southern Oklahoma Technology Center and winning election to the Ardmore School Board, where he was involved in the building of Tiger Stadium. He proudly took his seat at the 50-yard line for Friday night home games with his best friend, Emmett Hudgins, and where he could greet and visit with colleagues and students, new and old.
In 1956, John was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the 11th Armored Cavalry on deployment to Regensburg, Germany. After being honorably discharged from the rank of Specialist 4th Class in 1958, John served in the 4003rd Army Reserve, was recalled to active duty 1961-62, and again honorably discharged, this time from the rank of Specialist E-6 and with a Good Conduct Medal, Marksman Medal, and Medal for Meritorious Service. John remained a life-long member of the American Legion.
In the years following his military service, John courted and, in 1967, married the love of his life, Patricia Byrd, a fellow English teacher in Ardmore. Both lifelong educators, John and Patricia each retired from Ardmore City Schools after 40 years’ service, and during their careers, both were recognized individually as Teacher of the Year. In 2012, John and Patricia established the John G. Cobb and Patricia J. Cobb Leadership Scholarship at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, carrying forward their lifetime of commitment to student development.
Together, John and Patricia were married and baptized at the Maxwell Avenue Church of Christ, where they worshipped for decades and where John had the opportunity and blessing to baptize his only granddaughter, Catie McCraw. For many years, John taught the Sunday School Adult Class, and as a Deacon, he ministered to widows and widowers, showing a special heart for the elderly and their caregivers. His Bible is filled with handwritten notes and drafts of the carefully worded prayers he was known for offering during services.
John and Patricia raised two daughters, Elizabeth and Amanda, who were the lights of John’s life. Elizabeth’s daughter, Catie, brought him great and constant joy.
John took his community responsibilities to heart and actively worked with others to improve Ardmore. A long-time member of Rotary, he served as secretary and a Paul Harris Fellow. He served on the Board of Directors for the Greater Southwest Historical Museum, where he regularly helped Santa read ‘Twas The Night Before Christmas’ to Ardmore youth. And John was a member and officer of the Carter County Retired Teachers Association and the Oklahoma Retired Teachers Association.
John was deeply proud of being Chickasaw. Through his mother Ida Mae, an alumna of Bloomfield Academy for Chickasaw Females which later became Carter Seminary in Ardmore, he was the great-great grandson of Edmund Pickens, the first and only elected Chief of the Chickasaw Nation; likewise, he was nephew to Henry Pratt, a Chickasaw who was active in efforts to reorganize Tribal government in the 1970s and 80s. John served for many years as President of the Keel Family Cemetery Association, which caretakes the family’s Indian Territory-era cemetery in Bethel, Okla., and where both of his parents and much of his family rests.
John is preceded in death by his parents, Trueman and Ida Mae, as well as his sister, Murielene Cobb Potts, and is survived by his much loved and loving wife, Patricia; daughter Elizabeth Cobb McCraw and husband Dr. Shannon McCraw of Durant; daughter Dr. Amanda Cobb-Greetham and husband Stephen Greetham of Norman; granddaughter, Catie McCraw, who is a Junior at Oklahoma State University; brother-in-law, E. Wayne (Pete) Byrd and sister-in-law, Priss Gandy Byrd; nephews, Ed Potts, George Potts, and Steve Potts; and nieces Julie Byrd Mayo and Jana Wilson-Byrd. He leaves behind, as well, many dearly beloved cousins who were as close to him as siblings and countless friends, each of whom enriched his life.
John G. Cobb lived his life in service, with kindness and integrity and suffused with love. His ready smile, clear voice, and example of a good life well lived will continue in the hearts of those who knew him.
The family wishes to thank the caregivers at Elmbrook Suites and Ideal Home Health in Ardmore as well as Encompass Home Health and Hospice and Synergy Health Care in Norman for their compassionate and able care, particularly during this difficult period for public health.
John’s family also wishes to thank all of you for kind words of support and encouragement. The memories many have shared have brought comfort and strength as we remember and celebrate John’s life, and your friendship is much appreciated. For those who want to offer Patricia notes of support and encouragement, the family will be collecting notes into a bound volume for presentation to her. Please send your note to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also send personal notes to her at 2014 Trailpine Court, Norman, Ok 73072.
Finally, a memorial room will be available for visitation at Harvey-Douglas Funeral Home in Ardmore, starting Sunday December 20, but to keep our friends and family healthy and safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no formal family visitation or public funeral service at this time. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that memorial donations be made to either the John G. Cobb and Patricia J. Cobb Leadership Scholarship at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, which can be sent to the Southeastern Foundation, 425 W. University, Durant, Oklahoma, 74701; or the Keel Family Cemetery Association, which can be sent to Sam Goodwin, 18138 Bethel Road, Madill, Oklahoma 73446.
Cremation-With-Care was provided by Harvey-Douglas Funeral Home, where words of comfort to John’s family may be sent online at www.hdouglasfuneralhome.com.